It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in India, and most of us know people who have died or been extremely ill. Our hearts go out to everyone who has faced suffering.
Here in the Bir area, we continue to see alarming spikes in COVID cases, so it’s clear that the pandemic is far from over. And many of the villagers in and around Bir are especially vulnerable because of already weakened immune systems, especially the elderly.
It’s wise to wear a mask.
As we see many people understandably anxious to return to ‘life as normal’, and wanting to travel again, we just want to encourage everyone to be as careful as possible. If you can delay your travel until a large percentage of the population has been vaccinated, that is much, much better.
If you must travel, please take maximum precautions: wear your mask at all times, practice social distancing, wash frequently, etc.
We look forward to seeing everyone again after the majority of the population has been vaccinated and the very real danger of the pandemic has passed.
Facilitators: Tsunma Kunsang Palmo and Mark Moore, with yoga led by Daphne Charles
A six-day meditation retreat designed by world-renowned meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, with special features unique to the retreats at Dharmalaya, including a yoga programme integrated with the meditation instruction.
Meditation empowers us to use any situation or experience, even difficult emotions and pain, as a gateway to joy and inner peace. In this second retreat in the Joy of Living series, we explore ways in which meditation can be used to create an open and joyful heart.
Over these six days, we will explore how meditating on love, compassion, joy and equanimity can open our hearts to the world around us and decrease the self-fixation that lies at the root of suffering. In this retreat, we will examine:
How our tendency to fixate on our own wellbeing creates anxiety and suffering
How positive mental states like love and compassion erode the causes of dissatisfaction
How these positive mental states can be cultivated through meditation
How ordinary experiences, and even ‘negative’ factors like difficult emotions and physical pain, can be transformed
What: Writing retreat When: 19-21 April 2020 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Monisha Mukundan
In these few days together, we explore the ways in which our writing is nurtured by silence, nature, and reflection. All writing—whether it is prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or science-fiction—requires the attention of our expansive mind. And in order to find its own unique way into language and writing, our expansive mind needs the spaciousness of the natural world and its non-verbal wisdom. We will also explore the work of Nature Writers from around the world.
Language Note for Writing Workshops: In these writing workshops, I strongly recommend that participants consider writing in their first language. If we experienced our early lives in a language other than English, it is often that first language that leads the way into our deepest truths and memories. When writing is shared within the group (always voluntarily), it can be shared in the first language and then loosely translated into English. This gives writers access to the freedom and the rhythms of writing that comes naturally through the body as well as through the reflections of the mind. Writing can always be translated into English and grammar can easily be fixed, but to be fully recognized, the memories of heart, mind, and body often need expression through their first language of experience.
Monisha Mukundan has been a writer and editor for the past four decades and more. She edited the ITC Hotels magazine called Namaste, for over thirty years, during which time she edited two volumes of short stories selected from the magazine. Among her publications are a memoir, a cookbook and several books for children. She continues to write of her life in Bir where she now lives for part of each year. This is the second series of writing workshops that Monisha is facilitating at Deer Park.
What: Teaching on Nagarjuna’s ‘Letter to a Friend’ When: 15-17 April 2020 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Letter to a Friend (Skt. Suhṛllekha; Tib. བཤེས་པའི་སྤྲིང་ཡིག་, shepé tring yik, Wyl. bshes pa’i spring yig) — a shastra by Nagarjuna, which belongs to his Collection of Advice.
Nagarjuna (1st-2nd century A.D.) wrote this celebrated poem as a letter of advice to his friend King Gautamiputra/Satavahana.
This advice gives a concise and comprehensive introduction to the entire path and practice of Buddhism. It guides both householders and the ordained onto the path leading to liberation and enlightenment. The instructions are of special interest to those who wish to take up spiritual activity while continuing to live and work in society; they are meant to convey the whole meaning of the Dharma to the ordinary person in a language and style that are easy to understand.
Despite its short length (123 verses), it covers the whole Mahayana path with unusual clarity and memorable imagery; thus it is widely quoted by Tibet’s great masters and scholars in the many commentaries they have written on the Buddhist path.
“Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend with commentary by Kangyur Rinpoche ”
What: Workshop on ‘The Art & Craft of Writing a Memoir’ When: 8-11 April 2020 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Monisha Mukundan
In writing memoir, we get to live our lives twice, complete with the grace of hindsight as well as with the honesty that makes each life compelling and true. This memoir workshop is about diving into the depths, where our own unique story reflects universal truth: “The deeper you go, the more universal you get.” Our stories save the world. When we write a memoir and let the writing lead the way, we enter our lives in ways that deepen our appreciation of our own story, and one another’s stories. We broaden our relationship to the world within and the world without—for ourselves and for the reader. These are sound-byte disposable times. The memoir goes beyond texting, face-booking, emailing and tweeting. It is writing that matters and writing that lasts.
Facilitators: Dharmalaya staff, including Anushka Joshi
Description: Volunteer work period, beginning with a six-day residential workshop to provide introductory hands-on training in some of the foundational skills of compassionate living as practiced at Dharmalaya Institute, including meditation, earthen building, organic gardening, and permaculture landscaping, followed by two weeks of volunteer work (which optionally can be extended for another one or two weeks if you wish, until as late as 9th May). The actual training activities will depend on weather and the needs on site at the time. There will be a two-week practicum after the initial training workshop to support participants to deepen your skills and understanding further through practice on site.
What: Teaching on Atisha’s ‘Gardland of Gems’ When: 27-31 March 2020 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Geshe Lhakdor
Geshe Lhakdor is theDirector of The Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (LTWA)
Ven. Geshe Lhakdor has served His Holiness the Dalai Lama as his translator and religious assistant since 1989. In this capacity, he has accompanied His Holiness to many important conferences and forums throughout the world. He has translated numerous books by His Holiness from English to Tibetan and from Tibetan to English. Geshe Lhakdor is a trustee of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, established by His Holiness. He is also the Director of the Central Archive of His Holiness, a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Tibetan Classics in Montreal, Canada, and an Honorary Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is now the Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and head of the Science Education Project.
Description: A six-day meditation retreat designed by world-renowned meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, with special features unique to the retreats at Dharmalaya.
Awareness meditation empowers us to use any situation or experience, even difficult emotions and pain, as a gateway to joy and inner peace. In this first retreat in the Joy of Living series, we explore ways in which awareness meditation can be used to create a peaceful mind and joyful heart.
Over these six days, we will explore the landscape of our experience with mindfulness and presence, learning how to use the body, sensory experiences, thoughts, emotions, and even awareness itself as supports for meditation.
This retreat is suitable for people of all backgrounds, including experienced meditators and those who are new to meditation.